A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 783 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11.
of water was from thirty-five to forty-eight fathoms.  The afternoon of this day was bright and clear, with small breezes of wind, inclining to a calm; and most of the captains took the opportunity of this fine weather to visit the commodore.  While all were on board the Centurion, they were greatly alarmed by a sudden flame bursting out in the Gloucester, followed by a cloud of smoke; but were soon relieved of their apprehensions, by receiving information that the blast had been occasioned by a spark of fire from the forge lighting on some gun-powder, and other combustibles, which an officer was preparing for use, in case of falling in with the Spanish squadron, and which had exploded without any damage to the ship.

[Footnote 1:  The longitude of Cape Virgin Mary, is only 67 deg. 42’ W. from Greenwich.—­E.]

[Footnote 2:  By the draught in the original, omitted here for substantial reasons already repeatedly stated, the coast at this southern extremity of Patagonia is represented as a high bluff flat on the top, and ending abruptly at this cape.—­E.]

We here found, what was constantly the case in these high southern latitudes, that fair weather was always of exceedingly short continuance, and that when remarkably fine it was a certain presage of a succeeding storm:  For the calm and sunshine of this afternoon ended in a most turbulent night; the wind freshening from the S.W. as the night came on; and increasing continually in violence till nine next morning.  It then blew so hard that we were forced to bring to with the squadron, and to continue under a reefed mizen till eleven at night, having in that time from forty-three to fifty-seven fathoms water on black sand and gravel; and, by an observation we had at noon, we concluded that a current had set us twelve miles to the southward of our reckoning.  Toward midnight the wind abated, and we again made sail, steering S. In the morning we discovered the southern land beyond the Straits of Magellan, called Terra del Fuego, stretching from S. by W.S.E. 1/2 E. This country afforded a very uncomfortable prospect, appearing of stupendous height, every where covered with snow, and shewing at its southern extremity the entrance into the Straits of Le Maire at Cape St Diego.[3] We steered along this uncouth and rugged coast all day, having soundings from forty to fifty fathoms, on stones and gravel.

[Footnote 3:  The western side of the entrance into the Straits of Le Maire is formed by the Capes of St Vincent and St Diego; the former in lat. 54 deg. 30’, the latter in 54 deg. 40’, both S. and long. 65 deg. 40’ W.]

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